LEABURG, Ore. — A new pilot program in Lane County is now giving homeless people a place to live, while keeping local parks safe.
The first site is at the old McKenzie Fish Hatchery along Highway 126. The man staying there in a trailer and acting as a host says he’s found his own little piece of heaven.
“I think describing it is being plucked out of the gates of hell,” said Sam Frogner, park host.
Strong words, but for Frogner the new park host program placed him on prime property. Nestled along Highway 126, his view is breathtaking.
“I am the first person that was placed. I couldn’t have landed in a better place,” Frogner said.
Before he ended up there, Frogner was homeless, at times living in his car.
“I didn’t plan very well and so I had insufficient retirement which was just my Social Security, and that’s how I ended up being homeless,” Frogner said.
But now he has an RV with hookups and in exchange he has to be the eyes and ears of the Lane County Parks staff as visitors take in the scenery.
“The budgets are getting tighter and we are relying more and more on volunteer services and so we are relying on volunteer hosts to provide security presence to clean up litter to help us out to keep the parks a desirable place,” said Dave Stockdale, Lane County Parks Senior Analyst.
“I have hunted down a total of five pieces of litter in the last 11 days. These people up here are clean,” Frogner said.
Lane County Parks, in partnership with St. Vincent de Paul will monitor Frogner over the next six months, evaluating the program’s effectiveness.
“We have parks and we need hosts, and these are folks that either have a vehicle or a trailer that really needs a place to be, and we are able to take those two needs marry them together carry out this program so it really works out well,” Stockdale said.
Lane County Parks will take its findings to commissioners in 6 months it hopes they find this is a very useful program.